Charles Brownlow
Mounted emu egg  1890s

Artist/creator Charles Brownlow
Title Mounted emu egg
Date 1890s
Medium silver, emu egg and ebonised wood

Charles Brownlow was born on 25 July 1861 at Cullin Lane, Geelong, just three years after the first ever recorded game of what we know today as Australian Rules Football. His father, also named Charles, was a book binder in Oxford in the United Kingdom. In 1858, Charles Snr. married Eliza Whitaker from Releigh, Essex, and shortly after they voyaged to Australia. In 1880, the teenage Charles played his first match in the blue and white hoops of the Geelong Football Club.


Most sports fans know of Charles Brownlow’s football achievements. They might know that in 1883–84 Brownlow captained the Geelong Football Club. They might know he retired eight years later, in 1891, and that he was club secretary from 1885– 1923 and president of the Victorian Football League (VFL) from 1918–19. They almost certainly know that his name lives on in football in the Brownlow Medal—officially the Charles Brownlow Trophy.


What people might not know is that even before Charles first played for Geelong, he was acquiring skills in a completely different field. In 1880, the same year Brownlow began his football career, he completed a silversmith apprenticeship. His teacher was an outstanding Geelong silversmith of the time, Edward Fischer (1828–1911).